Reclaiming Capitalism

Warren Stephens
Chairman, President and CEO of Stephens Inc.

Few ideas and institutions are as misunderstood as capitalism, the free market system that underpins our economy.

For generations capitalism has been synonymous with the American dream, where all individuals have the opportunity to better their lives, pursue their passions, and achieve their goals. Capitalism has proven to be unmatched in its power to lift people out of poverty, create jobs, and stabilize communities.

In recent years, capitalism has been recast as a system that enriches a few at the expense of the many; a force that divides people by class and achievement rather than one that is agnostic in opportunity. Instead, entrepreneurship and innovation, the offspring of capitalism, are lauded as if they exist and thrive in isolation of capital and free enterprise. Without access to capital, budding entrepreneurs would see their ideas wither; without capital, there would be nothing to fuel innovation. In truth, we are all capitalists.

This dearly held belief fueled the work of Alexander Hamilton, the father of the U.S. economy. In Hamilton’s vision for America, individuals have the right to create their own path so as to enrich their lives. This belief is the backbone of not just our economy but our country.

Without access to capital, budding entrepreneurs would see their ideas wither; without capital, there would be nothing to fuel innovation. In truth, we are all capitalists.

Capitalism is not perfect and at times the American Dream might seem unattainable. Yet without the contributions of the men and women who capitalize on our free market system, our country would not enjoy its status as the global standard for economic success and stability. That is why we believe it is time to reclaim the spirit of capitalism in appreciation for the role it plays in our everyday lives.

Through our work at Stephens Inc. we see the positive impact of capitalism as people grow their companies and provide employment opportunities. The benefits that these thriving businesses bring to their communities are endless; the value that is created extends far beyond the bottom line. These principles have become lost in today’s understanding of the free market economy.

To that end, Stephens Inc. is proud to present “This Is Capitalism,” a collection of stories about extraordinary individuals whose equally extraordinary achievements would have been impossible in any other country. In sharing these stories, we hope to renew people’s understanding of capitalism, redefine it in the context of a dynamic economy, and restore people’s faith in its power to change lives.